The Siren of Insecurity

I was recently in a social setting where a small group motioned for me to join them. Yet when I approached, they made no effort to include me. It seemed a small thing. Perhaps they were immersed in their conversation, but I immediately felt invisible. I don’t think anyone meant any harm. They were unaware [Read More…]

Things Carried Through the Fire

My grandfather’s Talmud. Your picture of Uncle Billy. The innocence of our dog. The things I never show the world. The things I never show myself. The things we believe in. The dream I no longer need. The uncertainty at the center of all my plans. The small flame that keeps changing names. Now the [Read More…]

The Story Behind the Story

The great sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) is a moving example of how an artist was shaped by his unwavering commitment to find the story behind the story. In 1891, Rodin was commissioned by The Society of Men in Letters in Paris to create his now legendary sculpture of the eminent French novelist Balzac (1799-1850). Rodin [Read More…]

Taking Turns

Our sweet dog Mira has an eye infection and so each day for a week, three times a day, we take turns, calling her to the kitchen where she sits against the cabinet as we hold a warm compress to her sore eye. Today, it’s my turn. The sun is rising and I’m on my [Read More…]

Finding What Can Last

Dr. Leonard was about to trim down an old tooth for a crown and I was all numbed up, listening to the Beatles—Abbey Road—on small headphones. About halfway through, I began to feel the drilling. It wasn’t bad, but I was afraid the drill would hit the nerve and get much worse. Nerve pain in [Read More…]

The Secret is Burning

but I can’t tell if it’s using us up or lighting the way. Back from Prague, I tell my father of the Jewish Cemetery so strangely full of life and ask if he had to hide being a Jew. He says, “Of course. A nail sticking up will get hammered.” At 89, he can barely [Read More…]

She’s Been Gone a Month

I’m teaching in Santa Barbara. The sun is setting. The group is having dinner. Someone from Alaska asks me what kind of dog Mira was. How can I possibly say? I start but stop and close my eyes. Another woman offers softly, “I understand.” In the morning, there’s a man in a wheelchair in our [Read More…]

At the Window

I was at the window when a fly near the latch was on its back spinning— legs furious, going nowhere.   I thought to swat it but something in its struggle was too much my own.   It kept spinning and began to tire. Without moving closer, I exhaled steadily, my breath a sudden wind, [Read More…]

Things No One Asks About

I have been called heroic for merely surviving, which is like championing an eagle for flying to its nest   and I have been condemned as selfish for following the call of truth, which is like blaming a turtle for finding the deep   and I have escaped death more than once but not the [Read More…]

Our Spirit Path

After four months of aggressive chemo, I had to have a test known as First Pass, in order to determine if the chemo had damaged my heart. Through an IV, I was injected with a radioactive dye, which made me feel flush and hot. Then I watched the screen as the first pass of blood [Read More…]